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The following information may assist you with answering your questions about death benefit payments. Please be advised we are unable to issue payment until all required documents have been submitted. Therefore, to ensure prompt payment of benefit claims, you should submit the required documentation and follow the steps below.
Step 1. Death Reporting - You should notify the Teachers’ Retirement Fund about the passing of a member as soon as possible. You may report the death in a number of ways. Please note the following:
A death may be reported by the member’s employer, attorney for the estate, financial institution, funeral home or health facility. Regardless of the method of notification, the following information is required:
Step 2. Documentation for Death Claim
Upon notification of a death, we will mail you a packet that includes a cover letter with instructions and claim forms to apply for any death benefits due to the beneficiary or estate. Please read the cover letter carefully and review all materials. Upon review, please complete and return required claim forms and documentation to our office.
When the co-survivor applies for benefits, the individual will receive a packet that consists of the following forms:
All of the above forms must be completed by the co-survivor and returned with the original death certificate. In addition, tax forms must be returned even if you do not want taxes withheld. If you do not want taxes withheld, enter $0.00 in the amount field. Also, the direct deposit form is optional, however, we highly recommend utilizing it.
The following documentation may be required before payment is issued:
Upon gathering all required documentation and completing all claim forms, please submit the materials to our office so we may verify you are entitled to receive benefits or a final death payment due. If additional information is required, you will be contacted via telephone, email or correspondence.
Question: If members die before retirement, what benefits are they entitled to?
Answer: A member with at least 15 years of service and a surviving spouse, the spouse is entitled to receive a monthly benefit, even if the spouse is not the named beneficiary of the Annuity Savings Account. If the spouse is the beneficiary of the Annuity Savings Account, it is subject to a mandatory 20 percent federal tax withholding. However, the spouse has the option to rollover the taxable portion to an IRA. A beneficiary (other than spouse) is not subject to the mandatory federal tax withholding. Federal tax withholding, if elected, is based on 10 percent of the taxable amount. Any minor children are entitled to receive a monthly benefit until age 18.
Question: How long does it take for a spouse/beneficiary to receive the first benefit payment?
Answer: Upon receipt of all required documentation, including the final payroll information from the member’s employer, payment is usually issued within four to six weeks. If any forms are incomplete and returned to the claimant, this could delay the payment.
Question: Will a lump sum payment be reported to IRS?
Answer: Yes. You will receive a 1099R for reporting the payment as income on your individual tax return for the year payment was issued.
Question: If there is no surviving spouse or minor children and the named beneficiary predeceased, what happens to the money in the Annuity Savings Account?
Answer: The deceased member’s estate may file claim.
Question: If the member has already retired, does the monthly benefit automatically continue to the spouse or beneficiary?
Answer: Only if the member elected B-1, B-2, or B-3 (co-survivor option).